Portland: Qualifying report

Andy Wallace won his first American Le Mans Series pole position since 1999 when he drove the Dyson Racing Lola EX257-AER/MG to the pole Saturday for Sunday's Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway. The race marks the return of...

Andy Wallace won his first American Le Mans Series pole position since 1999 when he drove the Dyson Racing Lola EX257-AER/MG to the pole Saturday for Sunday's Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway.

The race marks the return of the American Le Mans Series to Portland for the first time since 2001.

Wallace will co-drive with Chris Dyson as the two seek their first win of the 2004 season. His lap time of 1:04.750 beat the Dyson team car of James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger, which ran a lap of 1:04.823, as well as the ADT Champion Audi R8 of JJ Lehto and Marco Werner. Lehto and Werner have won three consecutive ALMS races this season and can set a series record of four straight with a win in the two-hour, 45-minute timed event on the 1.944-mile track.

"I am thrilled," said Wallace, whose only previous ALMS pole had come in April of 1999 at Road Atlanta. "The American Le Mans series is fantastic, these are the best sports cars in the world. It seems that all year we have missed by only a little bit every session. You can be fast in every practice but not qualify fastest. We share information with the #16 car on everything, right up until the end there. Even if they're our closest competition we share information which is great for both teams."

Like all drivers and teams, Wallace qualified in conditions that saw temperatures near the 100 degree mark as a heat wave continued to linger in the Pacific Northwest.

"The heat is actually helping our Goodyear tires," said Wallace. "The engineers worked so hard to get the tires to work better in the extreme heat and I think it's showing today."

Clint Field drove the Intersport Racing Lola B2K/40-Judd to the LMP2 class pole with a non-record lap of 1:09.921. He will co-drive with Jon Field and Robin Liddell, the same driving lineup that took the P2 class win in last week's event at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

Liddell and Clint Field have only raced together twice and both occasions resulted in a class win. "I'm glad Pirelli (Tires) brought us together," Field said of his Scottish teammate. "He's a great driver."

Second in the LMP2 class was the Team Bucknum Racing Pilbeam MP91-Nissan of Jeff Bucknum, Bryan Willman and Chris McMurry. The Miracle Motorsports Lola-Nissan of Ian James and James Gue did not post a time due to an engine problem.

Olivier Beretta won his second pole of the season in the GTS class with a track record time of 1:09.981 in the Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C5-R that he will share with Oliver Gavin. A two-time GTS class winner at Portland in his days with the factory Dodge Viper team, Beretta used his knowledge of the track to lead the way in the production-based class.

"I always like coming to Portland," said the Monaco resident. "The weather the time is a bit too hot, but I think it's supposed to change Sunday. We have been making a lot of progress and the Michelins are working great. I think it was easy for me to remember the track since last time I was here too.

"The Corvette team is always working on the heat every weekend," he said of the team's air-cooling system. "The system is very simple, it is different than in the Porsches. The air comes into the helmet, it's not like the A/C in a road car. There is also air that goes through the seats, it helps a little bit, but it's still very hot. We cannot take off the top (of the car) but hopefully the heat will get better."

The other Corvette of Johnny O'Connell and Ron Fellows was second with the ACEMCO Saleen S7R of Johnny Mowlem and Terry Borcheller third. Fellows and O'Connell have won the GTS class in three of the four ALMS races held this season

Alex Job Racing won its 22nd consecutive GT class pole when Romain Dumas drove the team's Porsche 911 GT3 RSR to a lap of 1:13.674, not a track record. Dumas, who will co-drive with Marc Lieb, won his third straight pole in the process. The two are seeking their first win of the season.

"It is easy with Alex Job," said Dumas, in his first full ALMS season. "Like last week, I just needed one good lap. With the temps today that's all you need is one good lap. Our objective is to win the race now."

The other Job entry of Timo Bernhard and Jorg Bergmeister was second, followed by the BAM! Porsche of Lucas Luhr and Leo Hindery. The BAM! entry has been an early retiree from two consecutive races, with two-time ALMS GT champion Luhr not even able to drive in either race.

"Lucas is going to start, which guarantees him at least one hot lap," said Hindery. "Third in this group isn't a bad place to start tomorrow, and it will be fun to watch Lucas take it to the front. It's fun to see Lucas do so well in qualifying, but that doesn't change the pledge of the team not to take a shower until we finish a race."

-alms-

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Andy Wallace , Butch Leitzinger , James Weaver , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Robin Liddell , Lucas Luhr , Ian James , Leo Hindery , Terry Borcheller , Oliver Gavin , Jörg Bergmeister , Timo Bernhard , James Gue , Marco Werner , Clint Field , Chris McMurry , Bryan Willman , Jeff Bucknum , Johnny Mowlem , Marc Lieb , Romain Dumas , Olivier Beretta , Alex Job , Chris Dyson , JJ Lehto
Teams Corvette Racing , Dyson Racing , Alex Job Racing